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Michelle Warner

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Healthy Holiday Dishes

Posted on December 12th, 2011

I am always looking for healthy, holiday appetizers and dishes to serve when I have company over. I thought I would share a few of my favorites this season. I would love to hear what your favorite healthy holiday treats are. Please share!

Stuffed Mushrooms (recipe adapted from Whole Foods)


2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 (8-oz) packages button or baby bella mushrooms, stems removed and finely chopped, caps left intact
1 small yellow onion, chopped
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (1-pound) pkg frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess water  (I used fresh spinach instead.)
6 ounces Feta cheese, crumbled (I used goat cheese because I like it better!)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushroom stems, onions, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl along with spinach, toss well; set aside to cool.

Arrange mushroom caps in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Add cheese, salt and pepper to spinach mixture then divide filling evenly between mushrooms, mounding it in the center of each. Drizzle mushrooms with remaining 1 tablespoon oil and bake until softened and juicy, about 20 minutes.

*Tip: I read somewhere that before baking, poke a little hole in the mushroom to drain excess liquid. I wish I would have done this because when you bite into the mushroom, it does exude juices!

Pomegranate Cucumbers (recipe adapted from a recipe found on Pinterest)


1 large cucumber
1 carton of pomegranate seeds (I bought mine at Costco.)
6 ounces of goat cheese
fresh herbs (I used basil and parsley), diced


Cut cucumbers into slices. Fold herbs into the cheese until well mixed. Place a dollop of the cheese and herbs mixture on each cucumber. Add a small basil leaf on top of each cucumber. Add around four pomegranate seeds per cucumber. Serve and enjoy!

Quinoa Stuffed Acorn Squash (adapted from Rachael Ray)
This is one of my favorite recipes. I even made it for my family at Thanksgiving.


2 acorn squash (I actually use butternut squash and at Thanksgiving I used the pre-cut butternut squash from Costco that made it very easy and still yummy!)
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3/4 pound organic ground beef (You can use chicken too.)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 cup dried cranberries


Preheat the oven to 400°. Cut the squash in half crosswise and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Trim the ends so each half will stand upright. Place both halves in a baking pan, flesh side up, and pour hot water into the pan to reach about halfway up the squash. (Rachael Ray suggests adding 1/2 tablespoon butter to the center of each squash but I never do.) Season with salt and pepper. Loosely cover the pan with foil. Bake the squash until tender when pierced with a fork, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions and set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Push the onion aside, add the meat, season with salt and pepper and cook through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the walnuts, cranberries and quinoa; season with salt and pepper.

Remove the squash from the oven and, using a spatula, carefully transfer each half to a plate. Pour out any excess liquid from the centers. Divide the quinoa mixture among the squash.

Mediterranean Stuffed Squash (adapted from Alton Brown)
(We went to dinner at our dear friends’ Kelly and Eman’s this weekend and they made this delicious meal. It was funny because one of Jared’s any my favorite dishes is the Quinoa Stuffed Squash above; this rivaled that recipe so we are excited to add another one to our repertoire.)

4 small acorn squash, 1 to 1 1/4 pounds each
1/2 pound organic chicken
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup chopped mushrooms
1/3 cup chopped zuchinni
1/3 cup squash
1 teaspoon Whole Foods Mediterranean seasoning
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Generous pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut 1-inch off the top of each acorn squash and scoop out the seeds. If necessary in order for the squash to sit upright, cut off a small portion of the bottom. Drizzle olive oil in the cavity of each squash. Set squash on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large saute pan over medium heat, brown the chicken until no longer pink. Add Mediterranean seasoning.  Remove the meat from the pan. Add the olive oil and saute the onion, mushroom, squash, zucchini and garlic until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 10 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the white wine.

Return the chicken to the pan along with the  pine nuts, oregano and salt, pepper and mediterranean seasoning to taste. Stirring constantly, heat mixture thoroughly, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Divide the mixture evenly among the squash, squeeze freshly squeezed lemon juice over the mixture, top each squash with its lid and bake for 1 hour or until the squash is tender. Serve immediately.

Pomegranate Chocolate Candies (recipe found on Pinterest)
2 large pomegranates (I used pomegranate seeds from Costco)
1 (12 ounce) bag dark chocolate chocolate chips
wax paper

Remove all the seeds and place them in a colander. (I bought pomegranate seeds so I did not have to worry about removing the seeds.)

Gently rinse the seeds, then lay them out on paper towels to let them dry. (This is the most important part of the instructions. I did not wait for them to totally dry and it affected the appearance. I would lay the pomegranate seeds out on the counter the night before to ensure they are totally dry.)

Lay out a large sheet of wax paper on a cookie sheet which will fit inside your refrigerator.

Melting the chocolate the easy way: put the chocolate chips in a glass container  and microwave them until they’re melted, stirring occasionally; don’t overdo it, though- you don’t want the chocolate to burn or get tough.

Melting the chocolate another way: in a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips (if you don’t have a double boiler a metal or oven-safe glass dish over boiling water works too); stir constantly while melting so you don’t scorch the chocolate.

Add the pomegranate seeds to the melted chocolate (making sure the seeds are not wet on the surface, or else the chocolate can seize) and fold gently with rubber spatula until the seeds are thoroughly covered, then spoon out globs of the mixture, whatever size you like, on to the wax paper.

Place the wax papered cookie sheet in the refrigerator and let the chocolate-covered seeds cool overnight (or for as long as you can stand before tasting them).

Keep refrigerated. They should keep for 3-4 days, at least, although I doubt they’ll last that long once you taste them.


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